What Is a Resume?
Let’s start by defining what a resume is and is not. A resume is a unique form of written communication designed to quickly gain the attention of the hiring executive, inform them about you, sell you as a qualified candidate, and differentiate you from other job seekers. You have complete control of the appearance and content, and you should feel comfortable about how it represents you.
You are not writing an autobiography! Many job seekers put too much historical information into a resume. It’s easy to do. You start writing and remembering and all of a sudden you have a resume that is a blizzard of words. Hiring executives simply will not read resumes like that. It’s too much work. A resume must be informative, but it is really a marketing piece. It must be easy on the eyes and have adequate white space. The job market can be tough enough; don’t create a self-inflicted obstacle by having a poorly formatted and poorly written resume.
Occasionally, job seekers will use personal pronouns (“I”, “we”) in their resumes. Don’t do this. Although there are some differences of opinion by commentators, it is the prevailing view that a resume should not contain personal pronouns. Who else would you be talking about if not yourself?
When you write your resume, the rules of proper sentence structure and punctuation are relaxed. However, it is essential that you convey complete thoughts with good use of action verbs.
What the Pros Say:
As a resume writer, what is your definition of a resume?
A resume is a sales pitch, a marketing document, part of a strategic multimedia communication plan, and a brand messaging piece rolled into one that defines a person’s unique brand distinguishing it from competitors’ through a strategic combination of visual (format, color and word placement), verbal (keywords and power phrases) and emotional attributes (qualitative soft skills and quantitative successes).
A resume is a marketing document that is targeted toward a specific audience and presents enough features and benefits to tell the reader that the candidate is a solution to a hiring problem. It is not an obituary of one’s career!
Time Is of the Essence
Most hiring executives generally spend between five and twenty seconds when first looking at a resume. So, assume yours will not have much time to make an impression. If you’re perceived as valuable to the company, you’re in! If not, you’re out! An employer must be able to quickly determine your potential value.
How can you make the most of those precious seconds? Showcase your most impactful qualifications and accomplishments on the upper half of the first page of your resume. The title of your resume, branding words/phrases/statement, the first sentence of your summary, and the first bullet point or two of your first showcase section create the biggest impact. By then, time’s up! (More on showcase sections in a moment.) If these grab the interest of the employer, you get the next few seconds and perhaps more. This is another reason to use the word cloud technique—keywords and phrases will appear on your resume and “speak” to the hiring executive. Use this technique to capture any buzzwords that employer uses. Titling, branding, and a showcase resume have become important and popular for their ability to keep your resume in the executive’s hands even longer. Once you have created initial interest, then the hiring executive will generally look at your current/previous employer, your position/function, length of employment, and successes.
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